…It shouldn’t be used only when in pain.
Our society has been scarred by the reactionary principle of self care. This reactionary principle flows even into the fitness realm. People will remain as active as they can to achieve their goals without paying attention to the potential side effects it can have on their body. The creation of foam rollers and other self-massage tools have been an amazing addition to our industry, but sadly we are still using them with a reactionary-rather than preventative-mindset.
It is perfectly acceptable to use a foam roller on an area that is tight or sore from a previous workout or nagging injury, BUT what about the days when everything is feeling generally pretty good?? Most all injuries occur over a buildup of repetitive stress that may not show symptoms until it’s too late, so using your roller even on the good days is extremely important. The foam roller is a great tool to enhance blood flow and circulation to an area, so using it even when nothing is particularly sore can be very beneficial!!
It’s not always an immediate pain reliever…
Here is the sad life of the foam roller: Someone has some muscular pain… they try “rolling it out” one time to get some relief…they get no immediate relief…the roller stops getting used. This is where the Advil Principle needs to be removed from our expectations! As I mentioned earlier, your aches and pains probably didn’t occur in one instance, so how is it realistic to expect a foam roller to relieve it in one sitting? I’m lucky to get a 1-treatment fix in my office for Active Release Techniques! Foam rolling takes time and consistency to help reset the tissues to a more normal, better circulated state.
I challenge you to attack foam rolling with a preventative mindset, rather than reactionary. Establish some consistency, regardless as to how you feel immediately afterwards, and I bet you’ll start to see some pretty amazing results!